When a family member receives a diagnosis of dementia, it’s a huge puzzle to piece together. Our first thoughts usually focus on the person: How can we help them? How quickly might they progress? What kind of care are they going to need? But this is just the start of the puzzle; we often overlook the crucial caregiving piece! The family caregiver’s role is of vital importance. Caregivers have to take on many new roles— doctor, lawyer, financial planner, and caretaker—often not knowing where to start. Here are 5 tips for starting to build your caregiving skills.
When you hear the word “driving,” what comes to mind? Speeding down the open road, convertible top down, wind in your hair, driving off into the sunset? We’d all like to think of driving as idealistic, but in reality, it’s often more like stoplights, tailgaters, brake lights, and really just a necessity for getting to work and running errands. It is this commonplace driving situation that can become the most dangerous as dementia progresses. Delayed reaction times, poor judgment, inability to stay attentive behind the wheel, and frustration can be highly problematic in the stop-and-go traffic of Northern Virginia. So when is it time to stop driving?
Caregiving is a long, hard, full time job and caregivers are often called the hidden victims of Alzheimer’s disease. Although changes in the brain occur only in the person diagnosed with dementia, changes in behaviors, lifestyle, and demands occur for both the person living with dementia and the caregiver. Get some tips from our guide on managing your job as a caregiver.
Every caregiver seems to have an arsenal of comical caregiving tales to share with anyone who can relate. When caring for someone with a disease whose devastating effects and chronic long-term stressors are arguably unmatched, it is no wonder we hold so closely to these little pockets of joy. After all, as Henry Ward Beecher explained, “A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs. It’s jolted by every pebble on the road.”
It seems as though everyone makes New Year’s resolutions – eat healthy, clean out the house, exercise more, the list could go on and on. And despite our best intentions, these resolutions are usually out the window before we’ve even turned the calendar over to February. However, resolutions can be a great way to start off the New Year when you can keep them! Here are 5 resolutions for caregivers that you can actually keep!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year – so the song goes. With all the parties, food – ok hold up. Scratch that last sentence. Normally this is the time of year we’d be posting advice for how to manage the holidays with everything that’s going on. Well, it’s 2020. So naturally nothing is going as planned. But, even though our holidays look a bit – okay, a lot! – different this year, here are some tips for making this the most wonderful time of the year, even in 2020.
Communication is 7% verbal (words and their meanings), 55% voice (pitch, tone, tempo, volume), and 38% body language (facial expressions, eyes, posture, movements, gestures). This is important because people with dementia may no longer understand the meaning of the words but they will be able to understand the remaining 93% of your communication. Make sure your body and voice are conveying the same message your words are trying to convey. Here are some tips for communication.
As much as you may try to avoid it, for many of us caring for a loved one with dementia hospitalization happens. Sometimes it is planned, sometimes unplanned, but it’s always stressful. But did you know that nearly 1 in 5 seniors who are hospitalized return to the hospital within 30 days? This just adds more stress! Hospital re-admissions can be avoidable when you are confident in your loved one’s discharge plan the first time around. Make sure that you can confidently make these 5 statements before leaving the hospital to help your loved one avoid another stay.
I’ve been having a lot of trouble with keeping up my responsibilities at home. These are all things that my husband and I used to share, but I’m starting to get overwhelmed with everything. It’s all up to me to care for him, clean the house, pay the bills, and then people tell me to take care of myself. But how am I supposed to have time to do that when I have so much to deal with?
Insight was the place where my brother would go for a fun, entertaining, and engaging day. Right now, of course, he’s spending a lot of time at home. I don’t have a background in recreation or activities or anything like that and I don’t really feel comfortable leading any kind of activities at home. Is there anything else in terms of activities you would suggest?
I’m having a lot of trouble trying to provide care to my wife. She always gets upset whenever I try to help her in the shower or with toileting. I don’t know what to do anymore because sometimes she gets really upset with me by yelling, and sometimes she’ll tell me that she’s already showered or gone to the bathroom when I know she didn’t. I’m getting very frustrated and overwhelmed with how she is reacting. Please help!
I’ve gotten into some arguments with my mom over the past couple of weeks and I feel like this didn’t used to happen. I feel short with her when I go over to her house to check in with her and it makes me concerned for our relationship. Any advice?
Giving yourself permission to take care of yourself is the first step in allowing yourself time for self-care. Making sure that you take care of yourself is just as important - if not more important - than taking care of your loved one! But now you may be asking, how do I actually do that? Here are a few suggestions that might be helpful as you begin to allow yourself time for self-care.
I’m so overwhelmed caregiving for my wife at home; every day is getting harder and harder for both of us. I know that you have an Adult Day program, but I don’t see how I could get my wife to agree to go to your Center. She doesn’t think that she has a problem. What do you suggest?
In the earlier stages you may have to face the “when-is-it-time-to-stop-driving?” issue. Some people with Alzheimer’s disease have good insight about what is happening to them and give up the keys when they feel unsafe or unsure. Others may not have any insight and insist that they can and should continue driving. You may be faced with the task of deciding when driving skills, judgment, and/or visual spatial perceptions have deteriorated. You will have to decide when driving puts the person with dementia and/or others at risk. Here are some tips to help with giving up the keys.
If you’ve had a loved one prone to wandering, you know how stressful this topic can be. You may find yourself constantly worrying about the person getting lost, feeling trapped in your home, or overwhelmed at the person always being on the go. You as the caregiver have to decide how much “freedom” a person with Alzheimer’s disease should have. At some point the person’s need to be safe will outweigh their diminished ability to decide where they want to go and when. Here are a few tips to ease wandering concerns.
Sharing a meal means more to most people than simple nutrition. When life-long eating patterns change due to dementia, caregivers can easily be frustrated. Trying to meet nutritional needs can be challenging enough, while also missing the social needs that sharing meals once filled for both of them. Here are a few tips to try to make mealtime more successful.
Caregivers are often used to doing it all. They’re care providers, event planners, medication aides, financial resources, advocates, emotional supporters, and the list goes on. With the stress and uncertainly of the current pandemic upon us, how can a caregiver possibly take on any more roles? Remember why you decided to become a caregiver in the first place. More often than not, it’s because of a strong connection with your loved one you’re caring for. Rather than stressing over how to fulfill the myriad of roles, the question to focus on now is: how can I stay connected with my loved one?
Life provides us with many challenging moments. As I write this we are in the middle of a global pandemic. If that wasn’t a challenge enough, simultaneously, some of us are also coping with a newly diagnosed medical condition, others placement into hospice care, a dementia care residence, or moving into a new home. During stressful times, taking a conscious inventory of our day to day self-care choices is so very important for our emotional and physical well-being.
Socialization for people with Parkinson’s disease can provide support, community, laughter, camaraderie, a chance to practice vocal skills, and to feel a part of a unified group. Interaction with others dealing with a common illness can offer comfort and help people relate to one another. Sharing thoughts and feelings is cathartic and expressive. Staying socially active in the community can help the mind and body. Being with friends and family boosts our spirits, fights sadness and gives us a sense of belonging.
We all communicate constantly throughout the day. Phone calls, emails, conversations, now FaceTime and Skpye – there are a million ways we communicate without even thinking about it. Much of this communication comes naturally, so why is communication so challenging with those who have dementia?
Now that we're all spending a lot more time at home, here's a helpful task to add to the spring cleaning list: making your space more dementia friendly. Don't worry, "Designing for Dementia" makes it sound a lot more complicated than it really is! Using a few design best practices, you'll find there are a number of small changes you can make at home that will have a big impact on the quality of life for both you and your loved one.
You wear many hats throughout the day, but one you probably didn’t anticipate is that of detective. However, when our loved ones exhibit troubling behaviors, playing detective can be the key to interpreting what these behaviors mean.
There are many lifestyle things that change as dementia progresses, from every day routines to special occasions. Many families still choose to travel and do so successfully. Whether it is a day trip in the car or an international vacation, it takes some planning to ensure safety for the person living with the diagnosis, sanity for the care partner, and lower anxiety for everyone involved. Here are my top 10 tips for successful travel.
Change is always hard, and for individuals with memory loss change can be even harder. Relocation especially, and other significant environment changes, are often traumatic. As a caregiver, knowing what to expect, how you can prepare, and how to make these transitions more comfortable is key.
It is this commonplace driving situation that can become the most dangerous as dementia progresses. Delayed reaction times, poor judgment, inability to stay attentive behind the wheel, and frustration can be highly problematic in the stop-and-go traffic of Northern Virginia. So when is it time to stop driving?
Every caregiver seems to have an arsenal of comical caregiving tales to share with anyone who can relate. When caring for someone with a disease whose devastating effects and chronic long-term stressors are arguably unmatched, it is no wonder we hold so closely to these little pockets of joy.
"I like that IMCC focuses on dementia-related problems and provides a focal point for families to network and socially interact in coping with dementia. It provides a community that helps us in our struggle."